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A 5-year assessment of water-quality conditions is being conducted in the 933-square-mile Cheney Reservoir watershed of south-central Kansas. Part of this assessment is to define source areas of phosphorus in the watershed and to quantify its transport into Cheney Reservoir. Concern exists for the quality of water in Cheney Reservoir particularly in regards to phosphorus because of its possible relation to algal blooms and subsequent taste and odor problems in treated drinking water from the reservoir. The purpose of this report is to present the results of a preliminary assessment of phosphorus transport during the first 2 complete years (1997-98) of data collection. Annual phosphorus loads and yields were estimated, using regression analysis, at six sampling sites in the Cheney Reservoir watershed. Phosphorus loads and yields for the entire watershed also were estimated. Estimated phosphorus loads at all sampling sites and two additional subwatershed areas were substantially larger in 1998 than in 1997, with a median increase of 68 percent. This increase was mostly the result of wetter conditions in 1998. Estimated mean annual phosphorus yields for 1997-98 (upstream from Cheney Reservoir) ranged from 0.131 to 0.371 pound per acre. Much of the between-site variability in yields was attributed to variability in water yield and does not represent substantial changes in land-use or land-management practices. On average, about 62 percent of the phosphorus load to the reservoir was retained in the reservoir. A mean annual phosphorus yield for 1997-98 for the entire Cheney Reservoir watershed was estimated at 0.20 pound per acre. This compares to mean annual phosphorus yields of 1.76 and 0.05 pounds per acre reported in previous reservoir watershed assessments conducted in the Hillsdale Lake watershed in eastern Kansas in 1996 and the Webster Reservoir watershed in western Kansas in 1998, respectively. However, because of some uncertainty of the representativeness of the Cheney Reservoir watershed mean annual yield for 1997-98, it is suggested that a detailed examination of reservoir bottom sediment and associated phosphorus might provide estimates of historical mean annual phosphorus loads to Cheney Reservoir and of yields from the watershed with which to compare results of the 1997-98 study.
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Preliminary assessment of phosphorus transport in the Cheney Reservoir watershed, south-central Kansas, 1997-98